A Sex Offender bill being signed into law.

Aren’t Most Sex Offenders Unable to Stop?

This weekend I was talking to an acquaintance — smart, funny, well-read — who said she assumed most people on the Sex Offender Registry are dangerous, because “they just keep doing it, right?”

The answer:


That piece is running on the New York Times Op-Docs page (opinion pieces in documentary form). If you want to see more about this issue by filmmaker and Bronx Defender David Feige, I recommend his movie Untouchable. As for whether kids are safe in a neighborhood where there’s a registered sex offender, it turns out that kids are in more danger from people they know than from a stranger, even one who is on the registry.


A Sex Offender bill being signed into law.


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24 Responses to Aren’t Most Sex Offenders Unable to Stop?

  1. Theresa Hall September 12, 2017 at 9:35 pm #

    A real sex offender probably wouldn’t stop unless given no choice. And no horny teens who got into bed with each other aren’t real criminals in my opinion even if the law says otherwise. The guy who forced himself on someone is a real criminal and I don’t really want to not torture these jerks forever. The person who manipulated someone into committing a crime should be the only person to pay even though the law thinks differently. For me a true criminal is someone who commits a crime of their own free will and no pressure or anything else makes them do it.

  2. Donald September 12, 2017 at 9:38 pm #

    When a person does something that society has labeled as a sex offense, (even peeing in a parking lot) He proves that he has sex fiend DNA in his system. There may be a small chance that he can reform. However, we can’t risk it. He should be shunned for life and not allowed back into society.

    BTW it’s a good thing that we’re civilized and we don’t have a crude justice system like public stonings.

  3. Kabin Sons September 13, 2017 at 7:51 am #

    Thanks for telling a funny and well story like this. The sex offenders are just doing right now.
    It is a criminal activities I think because the real sex offenders are somehow committed their offense.

    And it is also a mental torture and should take a strong step against this. So that our social environment is fair.

  4. Dienne September 13, 2017 at 7:56 am #

    “Unable?” Hardly. Nearly everyone is able to control their behavior when they have motivation to do so.

    Unwilling, though, is an entirely different story. Rape and molestation are crimes of power and control. Some guys (and some females too) are so addicted to that power that they will continue to abuse whoever they can get away with abusing. Most of us know a “Creepy Uncle Roger” type that everyone in the family whispers to keep your children away from. Most of us have, directly or indirectly, experienced a situation where someone comes forward to say that Bob molested them for years, only to have dozens of other family members and friends come forward too. That teacher or pastor or coach who’s just a pillar of the community who would never … well, except that he did. Repeatedly. Jerry Sandusky comes to mind.

    The problem the the registry, though, is two-fold. First, it ensnares a lot of people who shouldn’t be on it. Guys who pee in the alley. Eighteen-year-olds who sleep with their sixteen-year-old girlfriends. Teen girls who send naughty pictures to their boyfriends. Yet, at the same time, the registry doesn’t capture those who should be on it. Creepy Uncle Roger types and Jerry Sandusky types get away with what they do for years – decades even – without getting on the registry because they never get caught. They’ve learned to use their power well to hide their crimes through intimidation and public image.

  5. Dienne September 13, 2017 at 9:39 am #

    Ugh, sorry for the brain-o. The problem *with* the registry….

  6. John B. September 13, 2017 at 9:54 am #

    It really angers me that anytime the media talks about sex offenders, for any reason, it is automatically assumed that a person who is officially a sex offender is a degenerate to society. A person who snatches little children off the street and rapes them. Basically an evil person worse than Kim Jong-Un or Osama Bin Laden or any other mass murderer or serial killer. If I’m on that registry for peeing in public or playing doctor with the neighbor girl when I was 10 or having consenting sex with a 16-year-old girl when I was 23, it is certainly not a good thing but I can’t imagine how it is when everybody assumes I’m on that registry for snatching little children off the street and raping them.

  7. Theresa Hall September 13, 2017 at 10:03 am #

    The weird thing about college is that they seem to be encouraging the idea of rape in order to save their title IX money. I pretty sure if you have been actually raped then there will be no doubt in your mind. The list should be for real rapists. The parents hate that their teen is having sex keep the law out of it yell at the kids the parents. Schools if they want to insist on being parents then the number one priority must be the kids best interest not theirs.

  8. Dienne September 13, 2017 at 10:11 am #

    So now Theresa is parroting Betsy DeVos’s false and harmful narrative that most college rape is just consensual sex gone bad. Sorry, but neither you nor Betsy know what you’re talking about and you would be well advised to stop talking until you do.

    Rape on college campuses has been practically epidemic for decades and it’s been virtually impossible for victims to get any sort of justice precisely because of propaganda like that. Even in cases where there’s been video evidence of gang rape of an incapacitated victim, somehow the perpetrators manage to elude justice, especially if said perpetrators are athletes, wealthy or otherwise “elite”. This is precisely why the Obama-era policies were enacted.

  9. Jessica September 13, 2017 at 10:12 am #

    The problem is treating all sex crimes equally. I know multiple offenders personally who reoffended over and over again, with the result being that vulnerable children (in one instance, the offender’s siblings and their friends; in the other, troubled teens the offender was “counseling”) were repeatedly victimized. In one instance, the offender claimed to have stopped (and may have) but only due to the threat of jail (his victims ranged from 9 months to 13 while he was a late teenager, he claims to have stopped at 18). The answer probably lies in making sure non-predatory offenders (Romeo and Juliet within a reasonable age gap, very young offenders who don’t reoffend) don’t get put on the registry in the first place. True predators manipulate the system and DO often continue to harm children.

  10. Andrew Jones September 13, 2017 at 10:44 am #

    Dienne – the big problem wasn’t with the Obama -era policies, but how they were implemented by the universities. At least 2 are being sued because they basically went the route of “all claims are true, you can’t defend against them, and your life will be ruined *even* if we find out the complainant lied”

    Devos is an idiot – *BUT* never for a minute think that false claims of rape don’t happen – there are even female reporters calling out women who have been crying rape because they changed their mind *after* the act, not during and not before.

    They swung from “rape doesn’t happen here” to “If you claim you were raped – even with no proof, 2 years after the event, and after you have admitted to your friends it didn’t happen, someone will still be guilty” because it looks better that way.

    Obama’s policy directive was good – but in classic bureaucratic fashion, some universities (under pressure from some groups who will remain nameless) swung completely away from the judicial standards of proof and rights and right over to “witchhunt” mode.

  11. Tim September 13, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    The low recidivism rate has been reported on for years (including many articles by the NYT) but instead of doing away with the life destroying restrictions, our justice system just puts hundreds of thousands more people on the registry, including for such “crimes” as consensual teenage sex, and sexting.

    I would not have much faith that things can improve, but now that the supreme court is revisiting this, there could be actual change. Here’s hoping.

  12. Theresa Hall September 13, 2017 at 10:52 am #

    No dienne but kangaroo courts are not ever good idea. Having people that aren’t even the supposed victim scream she was raped when the girl is yelling no I wasn’t isn’t helping. The police should be handling rape. If for some reason they hadn’t kept dropping the ball no one would thought of making colleges Handel it.

  13. Steve N September 13, 2017 at 11:34 am #

    “Rape on college campuses has been practically epidemic for decades”

    Dienne, um, hyperbole much? This statement is ridiculous. But mostly you should read everything that Emily Yoffe has written on this subject, just this month, for The Atlantic. It’s all online. The pendulum has swung way too far towards ruining the life of anybody accused of any kind of sexual offense, and it needs to stop.

  14. Dienne September 13, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    This whole “kangaroo court” and “the victim must always be believed” meme are all part of the propaganda. I used to work on the Chicago Rape Crisis hotline and I’m still friends with quite a few people engaged on the front lines of the anti-rape movement. The reality is that very little has changed since the implementation of the Obama-era regulations. It’s still virtually impossible for rape victims to get any justice unless there is clear-cut evidence that it was “rape-rape”, not “merely” date rape. Unless a woman shows up in the emergency room bruised and bleeding and immediately files a police report (a very rare series of events in cases of rape for a great many reasons), she simply isn’t believed regardless of any other evidence.

    The Obama-era regulations simply make it possible (still not likely) for the victim to get a hearing with the university and, maybe, not have to go to school and even live with her rapist. The reality is that a microscopic percentage of rapes are handled by the police and prosecutors – cases simply aren’t taken on or followed through the system. So the chances that a victim is going to have her perpetrator convicted by law are somewhere between slim and fat. So what is the victim to do? No conviction means there was no rape? She should just have to live with it? She has no recourse?

    The reality is that universities have control over who attends their programs and no one has a right to a college education. It is incumbent upon universities to ensure, to the best of their ability, that their student body reflects the values and standards the university purports to uphold. When there is evidence that a student has violated those values and standards (by, in this case, raping fellow students), the university has the right – indeed, the duty – to expel that student. Not every violation will result in a criminal charge, but that doesn’t mean the university has no right to expel a student. For instance, downloading your thesis off the internet is not a prosecutable crime (the police would, in fact, laugh to be involved), but you can bet it will nevertheless result in expulsion.

    This is not to say that any student can just walk in to the Dean’s office and say, “Joe raped me” and Joe should be summarily expelled without due process, but this is not what’s happening anyway. Universities have to conduct their own investigations and determine if the allegations have merit and, to the best of their ability, the circumstances of what actually happened. The fact is that over 90% of rape allegations are valid, yet less than 1% of them ever result in a conviction in court. Universities simply can’t turn a blind eye to that remaining 89+% of cases and just say, “well, gee, sorry, honey, no conviction, so enjoy seeing your rapist in class.”

  15. Dienne September 13, 2017 at 11:48 am #

    No, the pendulum has *not* “swung”. A handful of intentionally high-profile cases to the contrary does not make it so. Again, over 90% of rape allegations are valid. Fewer than 1% result in a conviction. So 89+% of cases still result in a lack of justice for the victim. I’m sorry if a handful of bad boys haven’t been quite as bad as they’ve been accused of being, but it’s still pretty easy to avoid being accused of rape – behave like a gentleman and keep your hands to yourself. It’s not, on the other hand, quite so easy to avoid being raped.

  16. Kimberly Albertson September 13, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    I don’t believe that sexual assaults are on the rise on college campuses (or in the military for that matter). I mean, let’s be realistic. We’re talking about a situation where teenagers/young adults are leaving home for the first time, are responsible for themselves, are drinking, partying, and having fun. Boundaries are being pushed and are often times broken. It is a ripe environment for sexual assaults.

    On the flip side, colleges and universities are BUSINESSES. They’re in it to make money through donations and grants. They naturally want to attract the best and the brightest who will bring attention to their campus which will in turn bring in money. Any negative publicity will potentially detract from that.

    For whatever reason, when a crime happens on a college campus, it seems like the majority of victims report it to the school. Before college campuses started having their own police departments (many with the same powers and authority as city police departments), it was very easy for the school to keep these crimes under wraps.

    That’s not to say that the advent of campus police departments means that these crimes are now public. And even with these police departments, many victims of crime still don’t report them to the police, but to campus staff. But when one victim comes forward and files a public complaint, it almost always seems to open a floodgate. Suddenly a campus that was considered “very safe” has an eruption of crime.

  17. New Name September 13, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    “Rape on college campuses has been practically epidemic for decades…”

    True, depending on how you want to define “rape”. Some people resist or reject the definition that it is a rape when, say, consent was not gained while the person was 100% sober. If you want to insist that alcoholically-impaired consent isn’t consent, that’s fine. But we’re going to have to charge an awful lot of women with rape, and there’s going to be a LOT of cases of “mutual rape”, in and around college campuses.
    The main problem is that people are learning their tolerance for alcohol (and, to a lesser extent, other intoxicants) about the same time they’re discovering their sexuality. Some of them wake up sober and don’t like what they discovered while they weren’t. There’s a reason frats offer free alcohol to anyone who shows up at their party with boobs… and this is not a recent development. The role of alcohol in human reproduction is well-known and quite ancient.
    What has changed, recently, is the notion that if two people get drunk, and then they have sex, and then they wake up sober and wish they hadn’t had sex, that’s a case of rape. (Of course, it isn’t rape if he’s the only one who wishes it didn’t happen.) Yes, it’s a bad thing when people don’t like the sex they have. It’s a bad thing when they have sex with someone they rather wish they hadn’t had sex with. But (controversy hat on) not all of these “rapes” are the same. Some deserve to be treated like felonies, because they are felonies. But some are not, and many of the people who complain about the “rape culture” are highly sexist… the women are victims, the men are aggressors, period. Sometimes the roles are switched. Sometimes they’re BOTH victims, and sometimes they’re both aggressors.

    In most other legal contexts, voluntary intoxication does NOT absolve a person of the consequences of their actions. Drink in a bar all night, then sign a contract? That contract is valid and you will be expected to perform what you’ve contracted to perform. Get drunk in a bar, then assault someone? You’re both civilly and criminally liable for the carnage that results. BUT drink heavily, and wake up next to someone you wouldn’t have considered attractive while sober? You poor thing, you’ve been victimized! (Universities try to control this by the simple expedient of prohibiting most drinking on campus. So if you drink too much and have sex with someone (you poor victim) at a minimum you should be facing discipline for breaking the drinking rules. That feels like “piling on”, so that isn’t going to happen. But holding the university responsible for the fact that you chose to break the rules and don’t like what happened as a result? Really?

    I sent my daughter off to college about 4 years ago. What I told her was that she didn’t need to be on the lookout for guys putting things into her drink. Not because that doesn’t happen, but because the most dangerous drug is ALREADY in the drink. The vast majority of college rapes involve alcohol. The best way to avoid being raped in college is to A) not drink to the point of losing control, and B) staying clear of people who are. Which is not to say that these things cannot or must not be done… just that extra precautions are warranted when heavy drinking is in the forecast.

  18. Dienne September 13, 2017 at 1:44 pm #

    “For whatever reason, when a crime happens on a college campus, it seems like the majority of victims report it to the school.”

    You say this base on what? The fact is that the majority of rapes are never reported. To anyone.

  19. Dienne September 13, 2017 at 3:19 pm #


    “According to a National Institute of Justice report [which report is linked in the linked article], 20 percent of young women will become the victim of a “completed or attempted sexual assault” while in college. And more than 6 percent of men will also be assaulted.”

    If 20 percent of college women and 6 percent of college men were suffering from cancer or diabetes or anything really, wouldn’t we call that an epidemic?

  20. Kimberly Albertson September 13, 2017 at 11:54 pm #


    I was speaking in regards to REPORTED crimes. Not just rape, but all forms of crime — from property crimes to the varying degrees of sexual assault.

  21. John B. September 14, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

    When I was in college some 5 centuries ago, 😉 there were women’s dorms and there were men’s dorms. None of this women’s floor and men’s floor crap. Women and men were housed in separate buildings. If a guy wanted to visit a girl in her dorm, he needed to be escorted, no questions asked. I could not just walk up to the 3rd floor in “Betty’s” dorm and knock on her door. She needed to come down to the lobby to escort me! Of course, women didn’t need to be escorted from the lobby of the men’s dorms. I certainly had no problem with that. It was all common sense to me. I think when you house young women and young men into the same building like they do today on college campuses and even allow them to use the same communicable bathroom, I think you’re just asking for trouble.

    But then again, what do I know? I guess I’m just old fashion!

  22. David N. Brown September 14, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    This strikes me as similar to a traditional perception of suicide: If you stop someone from doing it once, they’ll just do it again. Actual research shows that a few will attempt suicide repeatedly and persistently, especially when mental illness is a factor, but most do it more or less on a one-time whim. Extending the model to sex crimes would account for the known data disconcertingly well.

  23. Donna September 15, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    I’ve always wondered about the contrasting “facts” on which some are claiming that rape is so prevalent in society and so few false rape claims are made.

    If most rape victims do not report their rapes, how the hell can people insist that 1 in 5 women are raped? Where does this number even come from? Based on their own self-report, possibly years later, in a research study in which 20% of the people who chose to participate in the study admitted to being sexually assaulted so they extrapolated that 20% of the entire population was sexually assaulted?

    First, there is a selection bias in that people who have been sexually assaulted or have been otherwise affected by sexual assault are more likely to agree to take part in research projects about sexual assault than people who have not. That is just basic human nature. People tend to spend time doing things that are meaningful to them than things that are not.

    Second, peoples’ memories are often not 100% accurate. The human memory is very susceptible to influence from ourselves and those outside. How we view ourselves, how we want society to view us, our own social mores, society’s social mores, input from other people all impact our memories. This is definitely true years after an event, but it is also true in the immediate remembrances of the event.

    If only a very small percentage of rapes are reported and only a very small percentage of them fully investigated and prosecuted, how the hell can people insist false reporting of rape is rare and that 90% of alleged rapes really happened (just going with Dienne’s numbers here)? On what is that allegation even based?

    That said, I do agree that very, very few women (or men) completely fabricate a rape and report it to the police or college authorities knowing that it is false to cause trouble. However, see my second point above: the human memory is highly susceptible to influence. The human memory is also highly susceptible to alcohol and drugs and, in many of the allegations involving college rapes, we are dealing with intoxicated individuals – alleged victim, alleged perp and all the witnesses are all intoxicated to some level.